What should you put in a sympathy card? If you’re grieving, is there anything you can read to help yourself? Poets everywhere have used their pain to define loss and you can see that in these deepest sympathy and condolence poems below.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Deepest Sympathy Poems for the Loss of a Husband
- Deepest Sympathy Poems for the Loss of a Wife
- Deepest Sympathy Poems for the Loss of a Mother
- Deepest Sympathy Poems for the Loss of a Father
- Deepest Sympathy Poems for the Loss of a Son or Daughter
- Deepest Sympathy Poems for the Loss of a Friend
These poems may help you recall treasured memories or help you acknowledge your pain. Whatever you are feeling a poem exists to help you with it.
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Deepest Sympathy Poems for the Loss of a Husband
Losing your spouse can feel like losing your best friend. You can use these as sympathy messages, journal inspiration, or for reflection.
1. "One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop
This poem is Bishop’s list of things that are easy to lose. Losing someone you love is harder than anything on her list.
2. "Separation" by W.S. Merwin
Loss can define everything you do for a while. Merwin uses a metaphor about sewing to explain how sorrow has become the thread that his whole life hangs from.
3. "The Man Moves Earth" by Cathy Song
Losing yourself in a whirl of activity could help you cope with loss. Song tells the story of a man who lugs trees, moves earth, and digs holes … all to escape his feelings.
4. "Loss" by Winifred Letts
Your whole world may revolve around your spouse. Losing them can feel like the planets are falling from the sky. You keep expecting them to come back, even if you know they won’t.
5. "Forever" by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Sometimes, you can only visit your spouse in dreams. At times, dreaming of them can feel like a wonderful gift. At other times, they’re simply painful reminders of your loss.
Check out our picks for sympathy gift ideas for someone who lost a husband if you're looking for more ways you can support a loved one.
Deepest Sympathy Poems for the Loss of a Wife
These poems are a great choice to memorialize your wife. You can also include these in condolence messages.
6. "Epitaph for a Romantic Woman" by Louise Bogan
No one can replace the woman you loved. Bogan’s poem is about a woman who inspired love and laughter wherever she went.
7. "Requiescat" by Matthew Arnold
It feels impossible to believe that the happiest, brightest people you know can die. But sometimes death can’t be escaped.
Arnold realizes that the laughter and love he shared with his beloved has been replaced with peace. And he celebrates that because he knows she is no longer in pain.
8. "Ebb" by Edna St. Vincent Milay
Sometimes, it seems that grief has changed the structure of your heart. It can feel like the most powerful force in nature.
9. "Little Elegy" by Elinor Wylie
It almost seems wrong that the world doesn’t stop moving forward when your universe is turned upside down. Roses still grow and leaves change colors, but your life has changed forever.
10. "Dirge Without Music" by Edna St. Vincent Milay
People who act resigned after loss sometimes receive praise. But you shouldn’t feel like you have to act a certain way. Especially if you don’t genuinely feel it. Milay writes about her unwillingness to embrace grief after she has lost a loved one.
Deepest Sympathy Poems for the Loss of a Mother
Honoring your mom’s courage and love is the legacy of these funeral poems.
11. "The courage that my mother had" by Edna St. Vincent Milay
Your mother’s legacy might have been material things. Or it might have been her intangible courage.
12. "Crossing the Bar" by Alfred Tennyson
If your mom was religious, this is a tender wish for a peaceful passing. It’s a classic poem that wishes for peace when crossing the border between life and death.
13. "Elegy, Surrounded by Seven Trees” by Rachel Eliza Griffiths
It can be hard to believe you will ever feel joy again. Griffiths realizes that memories sometimes warp with time, but her feelings never change.
14. "Metamorphosis" by James Richardson
Seeing someone who looks like your mom after a loss is painful. Richardson sees a woman in a checkout line who looks like his mom. This makes him remember what a beautiful person his mom was.
15. "The Blue Dress" by Saeed Jones
Jones recalls a memory of his beautiful mother. Her blue dress makes up a defining memory, and this prompts Jones to say a final goodbye.
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Deepest Sympathy Poems for the Loss of a Father
Your dad left a legacy of love and faith. These poems honor his memory.
16. “Under the Harvest Moon" by Carl Sandburg
Sandburg suggests that neither death nor love are things to be afraid of. With beautiful imagery, he encourages the reader to treat death as a friend.
17. "Kissing My Father" by Joseph O. Legaspi
If you’re still in denial about the loss of your father, that’s understandable. Legaspi wonders how his father can look so peaceful, while he's feeling so many emotions.
18. "Your Clothes" by Judith Kroll
Your identity as your father’s child will never change. Kroll realizes that she never expected to feel a sentimental attachment to her dad’s clothes. Then, she discovers that his clothes are still his, even if he’s not there. And she is still his daughter. This poem would be a touching tribute from a daughter to her father.
19. "Feel Me" by May Swenson
Sometimes, you’re left with confusion and unresolved questions. Whether it’s your memories or enigmatic last words from your father, you may feel haunted.
20. "Little Father" by Li-Young Lee
If your dad opted for a traditional burial, it’s hard to leave him in nature’s care. Lee pictures a world where the birds and earth care for his father’s body.
Take a look at our guide to sympathy gift ideas for someone who lost a mother if you're looking for more.
Deepest Sympathy Poems for the Loss of a Son or Daughter
Losing a child is one of the most emotional experiences of your life. Maybe one of these poems can help you.
21. "Three Years She Grew" by William Wordsworth
Most Romantic-era poetry focused on the purity of children. If you had an angelic toddler, you know what Wordsworth is talking about. He uses beautiful imagery, comparing his child to a flower.
22. "Young Man" by John Haines
Even though death leaves terrible grief behind, it is nothing to be afraid of. Haines realizes that his terror of death was unnecessary. Death can be tragic, but it is also a natural part of life.
23. "Small Elegy" by Reginald Gibbons
Losing yourself in grief can feel like a natural disaster. There’s no way to save yourself from it, but you can try to weather it.
24. "Sonnet 71" by William Shakespeare
Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets were full of loss and grief. In this sonnet, the narrator asks that the mourners not get lost in sorrow. Rather he wants them to remember the love they had for the deceased.
25. "To Theodore" by George Marion McClellan
Memories can warm and wound your heart at the same time. Sometimes, memories make you feel like the person you love is close. At other times, memories make you feel lonely and hurt.
Deepest Sympathy Poems for the Loss of a Friend
Many poets have written about losing their close friends. It is never an easy thing to go through. Maybe these poems can help you.
26. "Elegy on Toy Piano" by Dean Young
Love sometimes feels like charging into unspeakable danger. That’s because you’re putting your heart on the line.
27. "Consolation" by Robert Louis Stevenson
Imagining your friend is only a few steps ahead of you is comforting. Death is part of life’s natural cycle. Everyone walks the same path in the end. Stevenson imagines a future where his friend is waiting just around the corner for him. It gives him the courage to continue.
28. "To W.P." by George Santayana
Losing a friend may feel like losing your world. With natural metaphors, Santayana realizes that he’ll never go back. Comparing himself to a tree who will never sprout leaves again, he shares his grief with the reader. A single brutal day seems to have aged him a thousand years.
29. "How It Is" by Maxine Kumin
If you could change your friend’s last day of life, how would you do it? Kumin wonders how he would do things differently. Maybe he would shift the events around, and make a new day out of it.
30. "Poof!" by Mark Irwin
This poem is about how suddenly death springs upon us. Irwin uses prosaic, everyday events to lull us into a sense of complacency. A repeated conversation, a popsicle in July … then someone dies.
You can also pair a poem with a condolence message for your friend, too.
Sharing Poems with a Loved One
Poems don’t have to be great works of art. They can serve as an emotional release. If you want to, try writing a poem yourself. You don’t have to show it to anyone. If it helps you process your feelings, your poem has served its purpose.
If you’d rather leave poem writing to others, share these with your family members. You can read them aloud, or simply use them to recall fond memories. Whatever you choose to do, and whatever poem you pick, know that you are not alone. This list is just a sample of the millions of poems written about grief. There is one out there that can help with what you are feeling.